Saint John Fitzgerald Kennedy?!


In a weak moment, as a deacon, decades ago, in mulling over what to say at a funeral homily after a tragic head-on collision in the parish in which almost a dozen people were killed (an entire family in one car and all teenagers packed into another car that was drag racing yet another car over the crest of a hill), in mulling over what to say I stopped to peruse – ever so stupidly – a binder full of canned homilies for funerals. I couldn’t believe it when I read over a homily that was merely political backing for JFK, making him out to be a saint, and that’s why we’re at this funeral today. Barf. Never again.

I’m not great at preaching as you know, but I would rather preach in a super sloppy way from the heart than to read such trash. The above pictured advertisement came in the mail today, bringing back bad memories. It’s the same homilies subscription series from a lifetime ago. Barf. Never again.

Guardian Angel intervention: I despise these canned, vacuous homilies so much that I used to make even just the fact of their existence fodder for my rant-homilies on canned homilies, a very traditional thing to do as we find out by reading the homilies of the Fathers of the Church and they start complaining about the evils of stealing the homilies of others. If canned homilies come up in conversation among priests talking shop, I tell my JFK funeral homily story. I started in at lunch one day in the Chaplain’s House in Lourdes, France, about that JFK homily and hadn’t yet said my opinion of that canned homily when, low and behold, the priest who had written that homily turned out to be the priest right across the table from me. He was ecstatically happy that he met an American who had read his homily, he being Irish. I just so had to bite my tongue. My Guardian Angel saved me by having me not rant without knowing who it was in front of me. Yikes!

It just gives me the creeps: That picture above just gives me the creeps, thoroughly. It’s truly unbearable. Traumatic. Uggh. I would hate to be in a parish where the other priest was preaching canned homilies. It’s just so wrong. We priests have to know Jesus. We have to know about the fire of the Holy Spirit.



Filed under HOMILIES

11 responses to “Saint John Fitzgerald Kennedy?!

  1. sanfelipe007

    I, too, detest the canned homilies, having endured them from time to time. Usually from a priest whose English was, perhaps, not his first language.

  2. elizdelphi

    Oh my gosh. One of the times I went home to see my parents and was trying to go to daily Mass at their parish the only thing available some days was a Word and Communion service by a deacon when they used some of the leftover homemade bread Hosts that they always had vastly too much of after Sunday Mass there (and, the crumbs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and he read a lame, brief homily out of a binder. Had to have been this.
    My bishop does not allow Communion services (except in some nursing home and jail type circumstances) and I’m not sure he allows the homemade bread either.

  3. elizdelphi

    And, you made me think of the opposite of what you said about the JFK homily, the homily of Fr Paul Scalia for his dad’s funeral.

  4. I wish my uncle were still alive so that I could share this with him. Even in the nursing home, he was still preaching from his bed, and he too despised canned homilies.

  5. Gina Nakagawa

    These canned homilies are not all “vacuous”, Father. Some of them are down right heretical, heterodox, horrendous.

  6. Joisy Goil

    My humble suggestion. When you find it difficult to think of a good homily, why not go visit a parishioner and bring up the coming Sunday readings. Ask that (probably) ordinary Catholic person what they think about these readings. If they have questions or personal ideas about the readings. Most Catholics have heard these readings over and over and most of us have private questions or thoughts about the issues or characters. This might jog some ideas on what to explain or amplify.
    Just my humble suggestion.

    ‘Cause lots of times I wish the celebrant would explain some of the background of Jesus’ day so that I could get a deeper understanding.

    • Father George David Byers

      @ Joisy Goil — I ask the servers even the ones just seven years old just before the procession starts!

  7. elizdelphi

    The thing that amuses me about the picture, though, is that the priest looks so much like the vicar general of my diocese, a holy priest who I cannot imagine having the remotest interest in this product. The VG’s face is thinner and a little narrower but it does look like him.

  8. Jeannie Diemer

    I have noticed that many of the newly ordained are preaching very good, from the heart, homilies. My new pastor, Fr. Chris is barely 30 and excellent! Truly blessed!

  9. sanfelipe007

    Speaking of Father Paul pulling no punches, I loved the beginning of his homily (once he finished his “thank yous”):

    “We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more. A man loved by many, scorned by others. A man known for great controversy, and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.”

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